It’s easy to do the right thing when it’s cool and profitable

Leo Varadkar and Charlie Bird did nothing for gay rights – but now that it’s cool to be gay they embrace the rainbow flag, writes Donal Lynch


New friends: Leo Varadkar at last year’s Dublin LGBTQ Pride march. Photo: Laura Hutton/PA
New friends: Leo Varadkar at last year’s Dublin LGBTQ Pride march. Photo: Laura Hutton/PA

Pride, one look around Dublin at the moment will tell you, has gone from counter-culture to corporate in the blink of an eye.

Now, three years after the marriage referendum, every other business drapes itself in the rainbow flag, as they try to portray themselves as right on enough to take your money. This is to be expected, some might even call it progress, but what is less appetising are other cynical bandwagon jumpers, the campaigners who came out of the woodwork well after it became acceptable to be gay in Ireland, the ones who want a medal, even though they barely ran in the race.

The most prominent of these is Leo Varadkar. The Taoiseach last week mentioned the bleak situation that gay people found themselves in in the year he was born, 1979. He drew a line between the prosecutions of that era and the categorisation of homosexuality as a mental illness and the ordinary gay people of Ireland who lived “under the stigma of prosecution, who feared having their sexuality made public, and their lives destroyed”. He pointed out that at one point it would have been “unthinkable” for a gay man to have become Taoiseach of the country.

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